The real estate industry is comprised of hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom have no background in advertising or marketing which means that sometimes the independently launched marketing campaigns lack polish.
So let’s take a quick peek at some easy ways to jazz up your marketing and the example below is a flyer that was in front of a house as the marketing collateral… I point this out because you may not now how ridiculously common it is for people print the MLS listing and put it in a flyer box in front of a house and it looks like this:
Making it So Much Better
Oh this won’t do. Any effort you make is better than this, but let’s awesome-ify this flyer in under 30 minutes (60 for the over-perfectionist-tweakers). First, get the best images you have of the home you’re listing (I prefer professional photography), you’ll just need four. Open your Power Point, Open Impress or Photoshop, whatever it is so you can simply slap up some images. Insert the four photos into a new document and resize it to look like this (with your favorite shot as the lead):
Now For the Pizazz!!
So this is the cool part- under your pictures, we’re going to add the pizazz! Go to the Idee Inc. Lab and click on the color palette on the right which will populate creative commons images (images that are legal to use) from Flickr that have the color(s) you select! For this flyer, we’re going to select two shades of green because we’re featuring a sustainable home but for your flyer, you may be advertising a brownstone building so you would select browns and tans, or you may be publishing materials for an oceanview property so you’d select aqua and navy.
Bringing It All Together
So now we have an awesome palette and to grab it, use your screenshot tool to capture the image. Now, we’ll pull the image you just created and put it into the document with the four images you already gathered:
Now either select all the images and group them and save them as an image by right clicking and “save as image” (or in Photoshop, just save the image). Now open up Picnik (the Flickr photo editor) which I use as a substitute for Photoshop. All I did was crop this image, add the word “GREEN” in white and faded it 30%, used a clean font to very simply line out the details but I don’t show the price. Why? Price changes lead to reprints and if you’re using high quality paper and you don’t want to kill extra trees, don’t list the price. Why else? Because the most important detail on this flyer is the web address at the bottom- flyers only give you the possibility of analyzing metrics if they direct a buyer to the website. Here’s the final product:
The Most Killer Idea OF ALL!
The flyer above can easily be created in a large format, sent to your local sign shop and printed as the yard sign for your listing. Now THAT is a killer idea- it’s unique, very attractive, eye-catching and can be printed as a two-sided sign that impresses your sellers and your buyers, it’s a win win win! If you and your seller are eco-conscious, the flyer can also be shrunk down to business card size and printed as business cards… there are now business card holders that can be attached to signs that are weather resistant and with business cards, sellers can carry a stack of those bad boys with them and hand them out- brilliant!
Show Us Whatcha Got!
This project took me about 15 minutes to make and I’ve got something that stands out which all home sellers deserve even if their home is only selling for $30,000. I invite you to use this layout, make your own, but try to experiment and get away from the 1990’s standard templates that have come and gone… be brave with graphics, fonts and layouts! If you use any of these tips above in a flyer or have more to share, leave a link to it in the comments, we’d love to see!
Originally published September 13, 2008.
Disputing a property’s value in a short sale: turn a no into a go
During a short sale, there may be various obstacles, with misaligned property values ranking near the top, but it doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker!
It’s about getting your way
Were you on the debate team in high school? Were you really effective at convincing your parent or guardian to let you do things that you shouldn’t have been doing? How are your objection-handling skills? Can you flip a no into a go?
When working on short sales, there is one aspect of the process that may require those excellent negotiation or debate skills: disputing the property value. In a short sale, the short sale lender sends an appraiser or broker to the property and this individual conducts a Broker Price Opinion or an appraisal, using special forms provided by the short sale lender.
After this individual completes the Broker Price Opinion or the appraisal, he or she will return it to the short sale lender. Shortly thereafter, the short sale lender will be ready to talk about the purchase price. Will the lender accept the offer on the table or is the lender looking for more? If the lender is seeking an offer for a lot more than the one on the table, mentally prepare for the fact that you will need to conduct a value dispute.
Value Dispute Process
While each of the different short sale lenders (including Fannie Mae) has their own policies and procedures for value dispute, all these procedures have some things in common. Follow the steps below in order to conduct an effective value dispute.
- Inquire about forms. Ask your short sale lender if there are specific forms that you need to complete in order to conduct a value dispute. Obtain those forms if necessary.
- Gather information. Your goal is to convince the lender to accept the buyer’s offer, so you need to demonstrate that your offer is in line with the value of the property. Collect data that proves this point, such as reports from the MLS, Trulia, Zillow, or your local title company.
- Take photos. If there are parts of the property that are substandard and possibly were not revealed to the lender by the individual conducting the BPO, take photos of those items. Perhaps the kitchen has no flooring, or there is a 40-year old roof. Take photos to demonstrate these defects.
- Obtain bids. For any defects on the property, obtain a minimum of two bids from licensed contractors. For example, obtain two bids from roofers or structural engineers if necessary
- Write a report. Think back to high school English class if necessary. Write a short essay that references your information, photos, and bids, and explains how these items support your buyer’s value. This is not something that you whip up in five minutes. Spend time preparing a compelling appeal.
It is entirely possible that some lenders will not be particularly open-minded when it comes to valuation dispute. However, more times than not, an effective value dispute leads to short sale approval.
Short sale standoffs: how to avoid getting hit
The short sale process can feel a lot like a wild west standoff, but there are ways to come out victorious, so let’s talk about those methods:
What is a short sale standoff?
If you are a short sale listing agent, a short sale processor, or a short sale negotiator then you probably already know about the short sale standoff. That’s when you are processing a short sale with more than one lien holder and neither will agree to the terms offered by the other. Or… better yet, each one will not move any further in the short sale process until they see the short sale approval letter from the other lien holder.
Scenario #1 – You are processing a short sale with two different mortgage-servicing companies. Bank 1 employees tell you that they will proceed with the short sale, and they will offer Bank 2 a certain amount to release their lien. You call Bank 2 and tell them the good news. Unfortunately, the folks at Bank 2 want more money. If Bank 1 and Bank 2 do not agree, then you are in a standoff.
Scenario #2 – You are processing a short sale with two different mortgage-servicing companies. Bank 1 employees tell you that they cannot generate your approval letter until you present them with the approval letter from Bank 2. Bank 2 employees tell you the exact same thing. Clearly, in this situation, you are in a standoff.
How to Avoid the Standoff
If you are in the middle of a standoff, then you are likely very frustrated. You’ve gotten pretty far in the short sale process and you are likely receiving lots of pressure from all of the parties to the transaction. And, the lenders are not helping much by creating the standoff.
Here are some ideas for how to get out of the situation:
- Go back to the first lien holder and ask them if they are willing to give the second lien holder more money.
- Go to the second lien holder and tell them that the first lien holder has insisted on a maximum amount and see if they will budge.
- If no one will budge, find out why. Is this a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan? If so, they have a maximum that they allow the second. And, if you alert the second of that information, they may become more compliant.
- Worst case: someone will have to pay the difference. Depending on the laws in your state, it could be the buyer, the seller, or the agents (yuck). No matter what, make sure that this contribution is disclosed to all parties and appears on the short sale settlement statement at closing.
- In Scenario #2, someone’s got to give in. Try explaining to both sides where you are and see if one will agree to generate their approval letter. If not, follow the tips provided in this Agent Genius article and take your complaint to the streets.
One thing about short sales is that the problems that arise can be difficult to resolve merely because of the number of parties involved—and all from remote locations. Imagine how much easier this would be if all parties sat at the same table and broke bread? If we all sat at the same table, then we wouldn’t need armor in order to avoid the flying bullets from the short sale standoff.
Short sale approval letters don’t arrive in the blink of an eye
Short sale approval letters may look like they’ve been obtained simply by experts, but it takes time and doesn’t just happen with luck.
Short sale approval: getting prepared, making it happen
People always ask me how it is that I obtain short sale approval letters with such ease. The truth is, that while I have more short sale processing and negotiating experience than most agents and brokers, I don’t just blink my eyes like Jeannie and make those short sale approval letters appear. I often sweat it, just like everyone else.
Despite the fact that I do not have magical powers, I do have something else on my side—education. One of the most important things than can lead to short sale success for any and all agents is education.
Experience dictates that agents that learn about the short sale process
have increased short sale closings.
Short sale education opportunities abound
There are many ways to become educated about the short sale process and make getting short sale approval letters look easy to obtain. These include:
- Classes at your local board of Realtors®
- Free short sale webinars and workshops
- The short sale or foreclosure specialist designations
As the distressed property arena grows and changes, it is important to always stay abreast of policy changes that may impact how you do your job and how you process any short sale that lands on your plate.
The most important thing to do is to read, read, read. Follow short sale specialists and those who blog about short sales on AGBeat, Google+, facebook, and twitter. Set up a Google Alert for the term ‘short sale’ and you will receive Google’s top short sale picks daily in your email inbox. Visit mortgagor websites to read up on their specific policies and procedures.
Don’t take on too much
And, when you get a call from a prospective short sale seller, make sure that you don’t bit off more than you can chew. Agents in most of America right now are clamoring for listings since we are in the midst of a listing shortage. But, if you are going to take on a short sale, be sure that it is a deal that you can close. And, if you have your doubts, why not partner up with a local agent that can mentor your and assist you in getting the job done? After all, half a commission check is better than none!
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